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PRESS RELEASE: Leadership Programme for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people launched


Coventry City Council, with cultural consultants Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry are today launching a call out for applications for a new leadership programme designed to support people with disabilities who work in the arts, culture and heritage.

The new programme, entitled AD:Vantage is designed to be delivered entirely online using video platforms and in short modules to meet the greatest possible range of access needs.

Currently offered as a pilot programme for 5 people, it includes group learning sessions, 1-2-1 support and mentoring from a chosen industry specialist. It also includes an approach to learning that encourages peer support, as well as workshops which will be tailored to the needs of those taking part and online Masterclasses from nationally and internationally renowned artists, which will be accessible to the public.

The whole programme is framed within the context that it will provide access for d/Deaf, neurodivergent and disabled arts professionals who have had barriers to their progress not just in access terms but in sector and organisational bias.

Following delivery of two highly acclaimed leadership programmes which sought to increase the diversity of cultural leaders in Birmingham, producers Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry, working with Coventry City Council, seek to create a programme that combines the successful elements of past programmes with modes of delivery that increase participation.

A highly skilled and expert Advisory Group has also been appointed to help shape the programme delivery and assist with advocacy and recruitment.

Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council said:

Coventry City Council has a strategic aim of improving the participation of disabled people in sport, art and culture. We want that to include increasing opportunities for participation by people with disabilities as leaders, decision-makers and influencers. This programme contributes to that strategic aim.

“We want to explore inclusion and how, by investing in people with different vantage points and perspectives we can drive fresh/ new thinking and innovation in the cultural and heritage sector.”

Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry AD:Vantage producers said:

"Having explored and supported diversity in leadership across the many characteristics, we are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this service and focus on the physical and attitudinal barriers that disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent creative professionals face.”

The evaluation of the programme will be led by Dr Vishalakshi Roy, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies, University of Warwick. Dr Roy said:

“We are excited to be part of this project which fits with our initiative Creative Futures, the network of support the University offers to the creative & cultural sector and our commitment to promote diversity and inclusion.”

It is timely that these specialist opportunities for leadership development are available to arts and heritage professionals in the city so that they can exploit the unprecedented potential for performance, exhibition and artistic excellence offered by Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021.

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We place the vantage point of d/Deaf, neurodivergent and  disabled creative practitioners at the heart of leadership

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